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Legal issues-selling freeware

by JosiaMFire2 / October 16, 2004 7:45 AM PDT

ok i plan on making a site that will give people the ability to pay for cds or dvds I will also give them a list of files, they can get me to burn the freeware onto the cd/dvd and get it couriered to them for money and you are thinking well why would anyone pay for freeware, well In New Zealand most people have 56k but files like Desertcombat (freeware gaming file) are 700mg and nz'ers just don't have access to these great files. I was wondering is this legal...do I need to obtain a licence and where can i talk to profesionals on legal issues?
Thanks, Josh

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Re: Legal issues-selling freeware
by Yew / October 16, 2004 8:09 AM PDT

Generally speaking, and I'm in no way a legal expert, you're in the free and clear provided the license for a specific program or set of files doesn't restrict redistribution.

For example, take GPLd software. It's perfectly fine for you to redistribute the software in unmodified form provided you include a copy of the GPL along with it. And generally speaking, that's the requirement most programs will have. If you make sure a copy of the license is included, it's fine.

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Yew anchors is probably correct.
by Ray Harinec / October 16, 2004 9:50 AM PDT

It would certainly have to be illegal under NZ law in order to get prosecuted.

If you sell it as a service, downloading from the internet [not P2P sites] and burning to a CD. They are paying for the service not the contents of the CD.

Just a thought. Maybe Brandon Eng will post an opinion.

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Re: Legal issues-selling freeware
by royc / October 16, 2004 10:18 AM PDT

I would say you will have to contact the author to get permission to distribute their software for money.
You will probably get 75% permission if you aren't trying to make a lot of money.
GPL should be no trouble but for freeware and shareware you need to read the license and contact the author. Be sure to explain about the 56K modem.

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ALWAYS read the fine print.
by Brandon Eng / October 16, 2004 10:47 AM PDT

yewanchors is correct that any software with a GPL (General Public License) can be freely distributed, or even sold with certain provisions; e.g. it should include the original source code, original copyright holders name, terms of the license. I believe software under a GPL license can even be modified.

ALL freeware cannot be sold legally. There may be a provision that you may "freely distribute" it, but you MAY NOT sell it. That's where the fine print comes in, so I strongly suggest you read the EULA (end user license agreement) of all the freeware you intend to sell, and check the laws of NZ just to be on the safe side.

Here's a good site (I think, sorry, a bit distracted watching Yankee game) re: freeware: http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Freeware

You may also want to google gnu, gpl, open-source; you may also want to add "New Zealand" to the end of your search query to find hits as it applies to NZ. E.g. "gnu New Zealand". Hope you make lots of money (legally)!

Yankess Sweep Boston!

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